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Young Voices: Candidates, here's what matters to young people

Q. November 8 is Election Day. What are the urgent needs that you think the candidates - school board, city council, mayoral and other candidates - should be focusing on?

NOTE: Young Voices is an email forum for students college age and younger. To participate, email associate editor Fannie Flono at All responses are published here and a smaller selection in the print newspaper twice a month.

Alejandro Linares, 14, South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte: The difficulties that we are facing today are more serious than they were before because of the recession. There are too many kids in the class room. Also having an hour and a half class period is just ridiculous. The things students eat at lunch can’t be called food. A really important thing is school start and end times. How can a student have a life if students go to bed at 8:00 p.m. and wake up at 4:30 a.m. to go to school? People that really want to fix these problems are the people we need to run and win the election.

Alkka Johnson, 14, South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte: Candidates should be focusing on the greater issues, such as improving education for tomorrow’s youth. Class sizes vary from school to school, but a smaller class size does appeal to the better instruction of students. Disciplinary problems within schools can lead to major distractions, and other affectations such as the urge to drop out and not receive an education. With more attention, and less reaction to negative trends set in schools, today’s adolescents will have the better potential to acquire skills needed for the future. I believe candidates should be judged based on their dexterity to ameliorate educational standards.

Saradine Pierre, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: There are many good candidates for school board. But if they want to get votes they have to focus on the major issues. Overcrowded classrooms are a big problem in Charlotte. Charlotte needs a candidate that can deal with these problems. It’s the same thing with city council or mayor. The candidates have good ideas but they need to focus on the people. For example the bus/train is convenient if you don’t have a car, but with the prices rising it makes public transportation more of a hassle. Candidates need to focus on these issues if they want to win.

Elizabeth Hudson, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: School board candidates should focus on the needs and development of all students. They should review our system to see why we are losing students to private, charter, and home schools. In our system, we need to focus on retaining teachers, teacher pay, class sizes, and student performance. City council and mayoral candidates should focus on the local economy. We need jobs in Albemarle and Stanly County. When you have jobs, you have more money to spend on schools, public services, and other needs in the community. This creates additional opportunities for people to work in Stanly County.

Madisyn Steelman, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I believe that citizens running for a position as mayor or city council rep should help create or find more jobs for youth. I believe this is important because more and more every year younger Americans lose their jobs to inexperience. My idea is how are the young Americans supposed to become experienced if no one will hire them due to lack of experience? I think that whoever is elected for every different position should strongly agree that we need to find a solution to this loss.

Devin Holcomb, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think our schools are okay as is, although I do think teachers should receive more pay. Their jobs aren't as easy as you would think. I’m sure being a teacher is a stressful job from paperwork, dealing with students, and teaching a range of learners in a class. City council and mayors should focus on more jobs for the youth of our area. Jobs can teach us how to be independent, and it's good to earn our own money. It would furthermore prepare us for a career.

Tyler Preslar, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: Our school board members should see that we should have more pay for teachers and longer school days. If a teacher is paid more, she/he will feel more secure and work harder. The school day should be longer so we can learn more and become productive American citizens.

Maddie Bumgardner, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think all candidates should focus on jobs that teens could be hired to do. Many kids my age say their parents will help them pay for a car and gas, but other teens don’t have that. I would have to get a job now that hires a 14-year-old, but most places won’t do that.

Chris Walker, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think the candidates’ focus should be on more pay for teachers. They are one of the lowest-paying professions. We’re hearing that we may only go to school for four days a week next year. That makes me think that teachers would get paid even less. We should stop paying big salaries to big businessmen and women and pay the well-deserving students more.

Paying Vang, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: More pay for teachers! Our teachers deserve a little more than just a couple of dollars an hour. They should be paid more than any other job. Teachers work hard to teach us students every day. They try to push us into going to college, getting a good education, and finding a good stable job one day. If it weren’t for teachers, most people wouldn’t be able to find jobs or be smart or have the knowledge to go to college and graduate. We depend on teachers; they deserve more.

Lindsey Hatley, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: Paying teachers more would not be a bad idea for all that teachers have to do for the kids they teach. Also, having smaller classes would help the kids learn more and be more efficient and collaborative with it. Now in schools and classrooms kids have to depend on themselves for help because the classes are huge. We also need to cut down on the number of buses we have, since some go down the same street.

Brooke Burgess, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think the elected officials should be focusing on more pay for teachers. Teachers have to come to school every day but don't get paid enough. They stay at school after hours just to get work done, and some teachers come in on weekends, too. They should not have to spend their free time worrying about school and not even get paid for it.

Stacey Alligood, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think the school board, city council, and mayor should focus on our budget fund. We should focus more on spending the money on repairs for schools instead of new technology. Also, some of our sports teams are wearing uniforms from years ago. What’ wrong with using pencil and paper? The old projectors worked just fine. Why do teachers need laptops and regular computers?

Dalton Eury, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think candidates should focus on a discipline plan in schools. I’m not saying to make schools more strict; I’m talking about not suspending students for stupid reasons. Suspensions go on a student’s personal record and often come for something as trivial as throwing paper in class. Let kids be kids.

Corey Furr, 16, North Stanly High School, New London: What the candidates should debate is dependent on the office for which they’re running. If we are on the subject of school board, I think they should take into consideration what is best for the students. Candidates need to think about how school was for them and what they want that’s better now. Mayor and council members should ask this question: What can we do to bring jobs back to our cities and towns?

Allison Nance, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think candidates should focus on keeping kids in school and helping them have a better future. My opinion is that the four-day school week is good. that would help the budget and more kids would stay in school because they would have to go one fewer day. For the city council I think getting more jobs for youth will help them stay out of trouble.

Alton Peques, 14, South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte: There are many issues concerning our city’s condition, but I believe there is a solution. One particular issue is our school system’s environments. Being a student in CMS, I have daily first hand encounters of unknown problems. For one, our class sizes needs to be cut down, with so many students per class needed individual attention is unavailable. Also the class period times are considerably detrimental to me and my peers learning experience with each class being about an hour and a half. These significant issues need to be changed as soon as possible to raise up a generation of young learners.

Savannah Faircloth, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: If it weren’t for teachers, where would society be right now? Schools need to have motivated teachers to have motivated students. But what motivates teachers? Not only the love of teaching, but also good pay. The government should pay teachers more. I think that the government is spending money in the wrong places. If we truly want to compete with rising countries, we need to spend our money wisely. Our economy is falling. To give it the boost it needs, America needs to start investing in education. I believe strongly that candidates should make decisions while looking at the future.

Sophia Ono-Korkowski, 13, Waddell Language Academy: I think school board candidates should focus on better discipline. In my opinion, the kids are getting more and more disrespectful. Not everyone, but some. The way they talk to people just sounds rude to me. Also, there’s more people not turning in work. It causes the whole class to be held back which isn’t fair to the people who work hard. The city council and mayor should focus more on jobs for youth. Everything in life costs money and some people want to start now. Jobs are more for adult people and so it’s a little hard for teenagers to get jobs. More jobs mean more opportunities for youth.

Paige Lynthacum, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: Candidates need to realize that the problem in schools is that teachers are forced to spend too much time on things that don't benefit students, such as dress code or piercings. Teachers need to teach. Also, we should use class sets of books and use extra money to pay teachers. They aren't paid much anyway, so why not do the best in our power to increase their salaries?

Cierra Ivey, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: I think that the candidates should think about ways to make life better in Charlotte. For schools they should focus on getting smaller classes for students, paying teachers way more, and getting better discipline in schools. For the city, they really need to think about transportation, more activities in recreation centers, and more jobs for everybody. They should care about more things that would help out like build more shelters where homeless people could stay at. The candidates should also really think about if they really want to do this and not resign like Peter Gorman did on us.

Laney Smith, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I think the number one priority of any elected official should be how to improve the economy. It seems prices are rising on everything and yet quantities are getting smaller. Unemployment is at a steady rise and people are feeling helpless when it comes to providing for their families. I feel that for the School Board elections the most important thing is to find a way to hire and keep qualified teachers. They need to find ways to support the teachers who are educating the future of our country.

James Schacht, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: I think that the school board has the biggest issues right now. They need to find a way to get a better budget and stop overcrowding. In some high schools, the average class has 40-50 students! City-council and mayor also have big responsibilities. I think they need to try to make more parks and recreational facilities. They have done a good job with public transportation by adding the light rail. So far it has been a success. Youth jobs could be important, however, not many 13- 16-year-olds want a job. I don’t think they need to worry much about that issue.

Madison Waters, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: By decreasing the amount of teachers you're increasing the amount of students in each class, which leads to kids not paying as much attention in class. With better public transit you're being eco-friendly. Jobs for youth will be difficult because of the economy. For recreational opportunities, I live four minutes away from a YMCA so it's convenient for us but I think they should try adding some more where there aren't any. I think that they are trying their hardest to solve the community problems, they should care about the fact that transportation for school got really difficult this year

Arianna Ruiz, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: The school board candidates should focus on better discipline in school. There should be more security – not a lot of teenagers walking around the street skipping school. They should focus on finding a way to stop kids from dropping out of school. The City Council and Mayor should focus more on more jobs for youth and more recreational opportunities. Some kids already want a job at a young age. Maybe just to have money for what they want. The recreational opportunities should also be focused on because we have so many kids over weight, we need to do something about it.

Jacob Keady, 17, Marvin Ridge High School, Waxhaw: The candidates for city council and the mayor need to focus on several areas. Obviously, there should be an emphasis on jobs (Charlotte has a 10 percent unemployment rate). The candidates need to address pollution and crime, since they are both things our area has way too much of. The DNC is coming and the eyes of the nation will be upon us. This is an opportunity for us to show the rest of the nation why Charlotte is a great city.

Allison Smith, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: The candidates should be focusing on jobs and schools. The unemployment rate is around 10.5 percent and unemployment is affecting many families. The city council and mayor should create more jobs. There should be more jobs for youth because just like adults, we need to earn money too. The candidates should want to please and give citizens more opportunities to earn a little more money. The school board candidates should focus on class sizes. For example, there are about 30 kids in my classes. Sometimes, it's hard to focus because it can become really loud.

Meg Brown, 13, Wadell Language Academy, Charlotte: If I could talk to the school board I would ask them if we could have a school garden. Also if the teachers could get paid more for there hard work. We all stay up doing homework and grading papers so we all need less homework. At lunch we never get enough food so we need more food. Also l we need less test. Kindergartners should not take test at that age. I would tell the city council that younger people need more jobs. Also the should pay for the big things first and not the small things.

Mallory Pigg, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: I think they should focus more on the education of the students. I also think that the classes should be smaller and the bigger the class I think the more the pay. I think that the goverment should not make people pay too much money. Schools should change the way they disipline the students because the way they do it doesn't always work. The state should have better transportation for people who can't afford to buy, or pay for a car. Also more recreational opportunities would be a great idea.

Katya Caleca, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: During the new elections, candidates should care about our well being; a community won’t function without it. The school board should look into things such as larger lunch sizes and more funding for extracurricular activities because if kids aren’t well nourished or enjoying life, then we won’t be able to perform as well. City council should be looking for more ways to put kids on the right path towards adulthood, because WE are America’s future and if America wants a decent one, we’re going to need to start looking forward.

Carolina Caballero, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: If I was a candidate seeking a school board seat and or spot on the city council and for mayor. I would focus on things that affect the future of this city which are the children. I would try to make smaller classes, many students are distracted when there are many people in the class. I would like to see the future city council and mayor focus on more recreational opportunities. Many parents have to pay so their children can go play sports or use a sports field. But many parents do not have the resources to pay. I sadly had to witness it.

Ana Perez, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: The candidates should focus on the community because it is very important right know. The school candidates should pay more to the teachers because they now work extra hours to help us get prepared. I think that the public transit is turning bad because many children have to go to the same stop and sometimes there’s not enough seats for everyone. I feel that there should be more jobs for adults because many adults need to take care of their children. The candidates should help the community by lowering the taxes and should start listening to the people.

Kevin Herman, 13, Wadell Language Academy, Charlotte: I think the people going for school borad have to focus on schools that are getting overcrowded because there are 30 or more kids in each classroom. Also, they need to focus on better disipline because kids are getting away the little things and as those little things get bigger it could result in a very big situation. The people going for city council and mayor need to focus on making the city more safer to because it will help tourist have a better time.

Avona Rios, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: Urgent needs that I think they should be focusing on are safer school areas, more educational trips, and more jobs. For schools I think they should focus on stricter discipline rules at school. Reason being is to get young adults back on track to a better life. For city council they should focus on cleaner, smoother roads, so that there will be less accidents. They should care about the environment and the food they feed us in school that’s supposed to be “healthy”. Things that they can do better for my life are giving the youth opportunities at getting jobs.

Erin Rutherford, 13, Waddell Language Academy, Charlotte: The urgent needs that candidates for school board need to focus on are reducing class sizes and not having so many teachers getting laid-off from work. Reducing class sizes can help students concentrate more and not be so easily distracted. The more teachers, the merrier because then the class sizes can be distrbuted more fairly. An urgent need candidates for city council and mayor need to focus on is better public transportation. They can try to get the Lynx Light Rail to travel to all sides of Charlotte so more people can have access to it.